Wounded St. Louis police sergeant in dispute with Valley Park officials over rehabbed house

VALLEY PARK, MO – Sgt. Joe Hill bought a house in Valley Park in July.  Inspectors still won't let his family live there.

The house was built in 1934.

No one would tell him "specifically" why his family can't move in, Hill said.

It's the latest in a string life-changing events that started during the protests after a former St. Louis Police Officer, Jason Stockley, was acquitted of murder 16 months ago.

Hill was among those sent to protect the home of mayor Lyda Krewson when it was targeted by protesters.  Hill was hit by a heavy chunk of street curb launched by protesters.  It broke his collarbone and displaced his shoulder.

“They had some kind of board and barrel “launching device”, (the chunk) went up over the front line (of officers) and hit me.  If in football, someone ran full speed, speared you in the shoulder, and spun you around, that’s what it felt like, except my shoulder was sticking out the wrong direction.”

His most recent surgery was December 20th.

He has yet to return to work.

He and his relatives have been making minor repairs on the home he bought out of foreclosure in July.  Hill’s marriage ended in June.  He has shared custody of three children.

They still don’t live in his house.  He’s staying with relatives.

“[The House] had good bones,” he said.  “All of the main stuff was good to go.  We thought as long as we don’t have to dig any pipes up or the replace the roof, it would be good to go.”

Valley Park building inspectors are refusing an occupancy permit, initially saying he had a water heater installed without a permit or inspection.

That was not true.

One city inspector signed off on the installation while another wrote Hill up for no permit or inspection.

It turned out the city’s computer records hadn’t been updated, the city attorney said.

There are bigger issues.

An inspector wrote that there had been a ‘multitude’ of plumbing and electrical installations without proper permits.  He could not specifically name those installations.

Hill said he had done no electrical wiring or water line work.

Still, the inspector and the city attorney said he needed to hire a licensed plumber and electrician to identify specific issues.

They were not picking on him, they said, it was a matter of safety.

The process has certainly been grinding on Hill who still has his arm in a sling.

“Not having my own place, not having a home,” he lamented.  “Just give me a list, and I’ll fix it.”

The city attorney said Hill could get a “conditional” occupancy permit and move in right away if he brought in that licensed plumber and electrician to identify issues and get them fixed.

Hill thought that’s what the city inspector was supposed to do.

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